Please Click the link below before Olasubomi's brief.

Link to: Olasubomi Iginla Aina's Pictorial synopsis.

http://www.lightupfoundation.org/files/lightup-photobook.pdf

OLASUBOMI IGINLA AINA’S BRIEF

Olasubomi is the embodiment of true passion, grace, selflessness, generosity, humanity and love.  Her work has become well known and featured internationally across various media outlets including the London Gazette, Washington Post, Punch, The Sun newspaper, Croydon Advertiser, Surrey Mirror. Television stations such as Canada TV, Ben TV, Passion TV, African Independent Television (AIT) , TVC TV, Channels TV, Radio stations etc. She was celebrated as a GOOD SAMARITAN on the BBC One Show, caught on camera shopping for elderly people in her local area (New Addington) in 2010.  She was picked up by the film crew who had been diverted to New Addington from a planned trip to Scotland due to poor weather, a typical example of her many impromptu acts of kindness and generosity.

Olasubomi has been involved in many schemes and initiatives but if any one of those could define her, it would be the Bag of Hope.  Bag of Hope (BOH) is a unique global project designed and funded by her.  The Bag of Hope is huge both in its actual manifestation and in its spectacular range and vision.  This is the largest canvas bag in the world, a physical embodiment of hope and it has already taken its place in the Guinness Book of Records on the 24thNovember 2015.  Far more importantly, the Bag of Hope is a symbol and a rallying point around which activities are run to raise awareness of the UN rights of the child.  This is a vehicle to engage and empower young people and to mobilize them and make them aware of the issues surrounding child abuse and child protection.  The Bag of Hope sets out to challenge parents, teachers, politicians and policy makers to make positive changes to improve the lives of children all over the world.  

The Bag is a physical receptacle of the hopes and dreams of young people all over the world.  Olasubomi organised and funded the creation of this bag in Africa on the 1stNovember 2015.  Hundreds of children both educated and uneducated were involved in the design and creation of the BOH which has received wide publicity in the news. This is a link to the documentary produced for the BOH project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb-3DbJwd1U   

From day one when the bag was first created, Olasubomi started to raise awareness of the rights of the child. Phase two involves touring with the Bag and inviting children to engage with the project by decorating it.  In May 2016, she visited the refugee camp in Calais, France known as, ‘the Jungle’, to donate essential items and to engage with the children and young people there.  

The BOH project has visited Uganda, Nigeria, Scotland and England.  The UN Arts Ambassador Ibiyinka Alao have most recently been involved with Olasubomi in this project and when he toured with her starting from the 1stof June 2017, which coincidentally was the International Children’s Day.  On the tours, children decorate patches to place on the bag, a very personal and significant contribution.  During this process, awareness is raised about the UN rights of the child.  Children are encouraged to think about their own lives, to be confident to speak about any issue that may be affecting them as well as to feel part of this broader landscape; this is manifested in the Bag.  This simple message resonates with all children.  Children and young people feel able to talk freely to Olasubomi; it is as if she has a key to unlock their inner selves.  She has received no funding for this project and uses her own money to tour with the Bag and her exceptional initiative to encourage others to donate resources.  So far over five thousand children have been involved across four nations and the ultimate intention is to visit at least thirty countries around the world.

The UN Arts Ambassador have travelled with Olasubomi on the Bag of Hope tour in England and Scotland and witnessed at first hand the enormous impact this has had.  All children are welcome.   She has visited schools for children with visual and auditory impairment, state schools, private schools and children not in mainstream education. She has empowered and inspired several thousand children/young people with this project and made an extraordinary impact in the lives of many with this inspirational and inclusive initiative. Its success lies in its simplicity; it taps into the natural desire of any child to be involved in something creative and to connect with other children.  Their interest and excitement is maintained with the issue of a Certificate of Participation and BOH stickers.  

The plan now is to turn the Bag of Hope into the largest sequined mosaic in the world and to try to achieve another world record.  The infectious enthusiasm and excitement of the children has generated a lot of interest in the core message centred on the rights of the child.  She really does understand how to engage young people and children and has exceptional vision on how this project can be used to instigate fundamental change across the world for this sector of society - a simple idea but yet so powerful and with so much as yet untapped potential.

Currently in the locations where Olasubomi has taken a BOH tour, there has been an increase in public awareness, not only in the minds of the children but also in their parents, teachers and the wider community.  There are informative sessions and the distribution of leaflets on children’s rights. She is optimistic that by creating awareness on UN child rights, this will help the children to become aware of what an abuse is, how to prevent and report it.  This in turn will reduce the incidence of abuse experienced by children.  She has the clear objective of influencing authorities in their policies and how they expedite these.  Children have gained more confidence to communicate abuse to their parents and other appropriate adults, notably at this stage there has been an increase in the report of child abuse.  In turn, parents, school teachers and other stakeholders are becoming more aware of the reality of child abuse and their broader responsibilities under the UN Rights of the Child.  Teachers and school authorities have been encouraged to create an enabling environment which will foster openness, with children feeling able to communicate issues they are confronted with without the fear of censor or punishment.

During the UN Arts Ambassador’s  time with the BOH tour, he personally witnessed students coming forward to report abuse.  The ground-swell of informed awareness and increased confidence amongst the children has been matched by community leaders who have been involved in decorating the handle of The Bag.  This demonstrates their public commitment and their desire to achieve real change for children.  Both school and prison authorities currently involved in the BOH projects are working with the BOH team who have drawn their attention to several cases of abuse that need further investigation.  The BOH team led by Olasubomi have continued to work very hard to follow up cases and monitor progress with various authorities in different countries. Specific indicators of success for the project include an increasing number of policy reviews in various settings where the project has operated.  The project is in support of tougher punishments for those who perpetrate crimes of abuse against children.  The BOH initiative has without doubt contributed towards an overall improvement in the health and well-being of all those children who have taken part.

The Bag of Hope project demonstrates Ola’s overarching life mission which is to reach out and help as many children and young people as possible regardless of their ethnicity, religion or status.  She has dedicated her life from a young age to the service of others.  The Bag of Hope project is one example of this but there are many others. So far the BOH tour has visited Uganda, France Scotland, England, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Benin Republic. With over twelve thousand beneficiaries.

In 2014, there was a serious rise in Islamaphobic crime in Croydon representing over one hundred percent increase from December 2014 to December 2015.  This link will tell you more.  http://www.met.police.uk/crimefigures/datatable.phpborough=zd&period=year

As a result of this, Ola decided to start working with young Muslim girls and boys, using the Lightup Foundation platform to offer support and counselling. She organised training and support sessions for young Muslims to teach them problem solving skills, mind focusing and confidence boosting techniques to assist them in their daily activities.  Crucially this also helps them manage the rise in hate crime and anti-Islamic feeling within their communities.  The participants have all endorsed the sessions as incredibly beneficial and indicated that they wish them to continue and this scheme has been running for over four years now.  The use of mentoring has meant that the input given to these young Muslims will have a far greater reach than just those taking part from the Alkhair Muslim community.

Olasubomi is keen to reach those young people who are disadvantaged and who may have already lost their way. This may be amply demonstrated by her work with inmates at both Brixton Prison and Downview Prison in Carshalton alongside a religious minister from Croydon Tabernacle.  Their prison visits are often organised at short notice and offer counselling and support to young inmates. In 2009 and 2010, Ola sacrificed some of her own festive celebrations with her family on Christmas day to spend time with the young people in Downview Prison who were without visitors. Her non judgemental approach and giving wholly of herself has gained the confidence of many of the prisoners and promoted a spirit of engagement and access. 

Olasubomi’s prison work is not confined solely to the United Kingdom.  In 2014, she started working with young offenders overseas at the Borstal Prison in Abeokuta Ogun State in Nigeria.  Again the work was of the same type, organising motivational training sessions, offering counselling and support and often just simply comfort when required.  All this work is funded by her personally with only occasional and sporadic donations from those who believe in her cause.  Using the Lightup Foundation platform, she organises visitors to counsel the inmates and visits the prison herself each year to offer what support she can via personal sessions.  

Such is the transient nature of the prison population that the first young people she worked with in 2014, around two hundred in number, have since been released.  The batch she is currently working with in 2020 is close to 400 inmates at Abeokuta Ogun State Borstal. In Nigeria, she has worked with an estimated total of over 2,000 inmates from 2014 to date She provides support in many and every form including impromptu funding to transport prisoners home when they have been released and money for toiletries and other personal essentials.  

Olasubomi’s work in both British and Nigerian prisons has made an enormous impact on the lives of so many young prisoners.  Her assistance is now being actively sought by other prisons and penal institutions to support their inmates.  On an annual basis, she funds talent productions and Christmas parties providing food and gifts for each and every child.  The Nigerian Borstal Prison authorities in Ogun State now use the Lightup Foundation tee shirt as their official uniform.  This is funded personally by Olasubomi.  A lot of the young people only have tattered clothing and to be able to wear something smart and new at official events has really increased their self-worth.  

She commence motivational sessions with another Borstal corrective facility in Kwara State in Nigeria and this came about due to her successful work in the Borstal at Abeokuta Ogun State. Again using her own funds, counselling sessions were arranged for the young inmates and she personally offered motivational training at this programme in August 2017.  These sessions have had a very positive and encouraging impact on the participants.  Two years earlier in 2015, Olasubomi also volunteered to work in the adult Ibara Prison Abeokuta and also Shagmu Prison.  Again she donated items to provide personal assistance, she offered financial help in the form of bail costs for certain prisoners and she organised motivational sessions.  Above all she gave them her time and her attention, engaging with them, counselling them and praying with them.

Olasubomi’s works have an international reach but she does not overlook what is right under her nose in her own community.  In 2012, she had a great idea to start to organise community Christmas party in New Addington, so she started organising  Christmas party for the children of New Addington.  She runs the party on behalf of the Gateway Church, New Addington and it has been a successful feature of community life for the past seven years.  Part of the event is organised in collaboration with Croydon council Food Bank project and involves the distribution of food baskets to the less privileged and vulnerable within the community.  The event is mostly funded by the Gateway Church but Olasubomi only assist with project organisation and her passion brings it to life and ensures a reach far into this community.  

She moved to a different area in 2013 and immediately began the same initiative in her new community, Smallfield and Horley.  She funds this event entirely herself including the provision of food and drinks, beautifully wrapped gift for each participating child and festive entertainment. This event has been very popular and was broadened in 2017 to include adults with huge success and acclaim.  It is the only community event in this area that brings everyone together and has created new friendships and networks across all the generations.

After the London riots, Olasubomi decided to dig a little deeper.  She was intrigued by the root cause of the anti-social behaviour displayed by young people and why they would want to destroy the assets in their community in a protest.  On behalf of Lightup Foundation and on a completely self-funded basis initially, she organised an inter-school debate on the 4thOctober 2011.  150 young people as well as a BBC researcher were present and other relevant organisations.  The discussion revolved around the cause of the riots and how future occurrences could be prevented.  The debate established that certainly one of the causes of this violent behaviour was that young people lacked any sense of ownership and pride in their community. When they felt overlooked by government, it was easy to damage things that appeared to be of no value to them. Following the debate, Olasubomi embarked on various youth consultations, talks and road shows within Tottenham and Croydon.  Further research revealed a disconnect between young people and the communities where they were living and it begged the question, why did they not set fire to their own houses?  The conclusion she reached is that most young people did not view the community as theirs. They did not feel they had a stake in it and that it was their heritage.  

Armed with this research, Olasubomi decided to create a Heritage project with the sole aim of connecting young people to their communities. The intention was to make them understand the history of their community, create awareness of cultural and historical assets and thereby encourage them to celebrate where they lived and develop pride in their surroundings.  

Lightup Foundation executed the project in 2013/2014, delegated initially by Olasubomi as she was on maternity leave. However, the project nearly floundered, due to unforeseen situation. Olasubomi immediately had to resume active work to save the situation and most especially for the stability of the young participants, so she stepped in to lead the project forward.  

She smartly coordinated a team of partners and supporters including the Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA), Haringey Libraries, Bruce Castle Museum, St. Mary’s Catholic High School, John Loughborough School, Parkview Academy School and Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service.  There were also local businesses involved who had suffered as a result of the damage caused by the rioters. There were exchange tours between Croydon and Haringey so the two groups could explore and share each other’s findings.  The outcome of this collaboration was exhibited in schools, youth clubs, on social networking sites and in other public places within the two boroughs. 

From this project came another outcome i.e. 2 different magazines, the First Youth Heritage Magazine for Croydon and Haringey. Ten thousand copies of this innovative new publication were produced across both boroughs.  Olasubomi organised a memorable magazine launch to showcase the project which was attended by local dignitaries and the Mayor.  

The magazine has seen a wide distribution, to every secondary school both state and private, special schools, libraries and youth clubs.  Her overriding ambition is that young people understand the need and importance of having a positive impact on the lives of others.  The children who participated in the project learned many new life skills which they have been able to use again within their own communities and to benefit others. There has been significant outreach from the project within the adult community and the overall success has been far greater than was ever anticipated at the outset.  The achievement has been marked by the Mayor of Croydon who invited Olasubomi and all the young Croydon participants to the Mayor’s palour where they all received badges from the Mayor in appreciation of their remarkable efforts towards the execution of the project.  

LINKS TO IMPORTANT PROJECT INFORMATION:

Link to Haringey Independent newspaper’s press release 

http://www.haringeyindependent.co.uk/news/10399966.Foundation_secures___32_500_to_educate_young_people_about_local_heritage/

DOCUMENTARY FOR THE 2 BOROUGHS 

Documentary of Haringey High Road 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-I1BYUnd9c 

Documentary of Croydon High Street 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE1uJx3oFwU 

NEWSPAPER PUBLICATION ON AWARD CEREMONY AND MAGAZINE LAUNCH 

http://www.haringeyindependent.co.uk/news/10845761.Teenagers_launch_heritage_magazine/

AWARD CEREMONY AND MAGAZINE LAUNCH (On YouTube) 

Croydon link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKddGpsMGbQ

Haringey Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X3DTAnl47w&feature=youtu.be

On the 8thJanuary 2018, Olasubomi started a nursery/primary school project for the less privileged in Ikhare Island settlement in Lagos Sate using the Lightup Foundation platform.  This is a project which is currently funded solely by her.  The settlement is remote, surrounded by sea and highly impoverished.  Many of the children there do not receive any form of formal education as they are required to work. Additionally there is no free education within this community and the only free school available are outside this community and this will require travelling across a body of water which also needs to be funded and this automatically puts education firmly beyond the reach of most families in the settlement.  Lack of education maintains the circle of poverty and under development. Olasubomi’s project has created a school which offers free, quality education to the children from the Ikhare community.  The initiative has been applauded and welcomed by the local people and celebrated by their king and other local leaders.

Olasubomi’s life has been dedicated to the service of others from a young age.  This drive first came to prominence when she was at University and her leadership skills became apparent.  She started studying architecture at Obafemi Awolowo University in 1996.  This was one of the best Universities in Africa but it was a time of huge trouble and political unrest within higher education.  She contested the student elections and became Vice President of the Student Union famously on an election campaign with a zero budget unlike her competitors.  She simply used her creativity as a substitute for lack of funds and this is an early illustration of how she is able to get right to the centre of an issue and deliver.  

The University was in crisis and the then President of the Student Union under whom she served as Deputy, was active in stirring up trouble and unrest, advocating militancy and violence amongst the student population to resolve a long standing issue of the re-instatement of thirteen union leaders.  These thirteen students had been expelled for campaigning for the welfare of the students and for organising a rally against the extra-judicial killing of Ken Saro Wiwa and another eight Ogoni activists under the despotic era of Vice-Chancellor, Professor Wale Omole and the military junta of General Sanni Abacha. These student activists had been rusticated in 1995 before Olasubomi had gained admission to the University.  This had formed a focal point for riots and violent behaviour, causing injury and death and significant disruption to academic life.  The situation was sufficiently serious to warrant coverage in the national newspapers of the time.

Whilst this was ongoing, there was also a serious massacre on the 10thJuly 1999, by secret cult members operating at the University.  They engaged in the execution of five students amongst which were leaders of the Student Union.  Rumours abounded that the University authorities lay behind these murders and the situation between the students and the University leaders began to spiral out of control.  Despite all of this, Olasubomi showed incredible personal courage and still went ahead to contest to become a student leader. She engaged with this situation with the sole intent of resolving the massive crisis on the ground.

A few months after winning her election and gaining appointment as the Vice President of the Student Union, the President of the Union once again opted for the usual route of violence as a tool to resolve the issues facing the student body.  Ultimately, he was suspended and this was when Olasubomi’s influence really came to the fore.  

She organised a demonstration in support of the rusticated students.  This demonstration was peaceful, unheard of in the recent history of the University, and a beacon of hope going forward with colossal impact. She engaged not only with the student population to win their trust but also with University leaders.   Being a female President of the Student Union was in itself a remarkable achievement.  She demonstrated an innate ability to bridge the gap between the warring students and the University Council and her tenure as President of the Student Union had a huge impact on the life of the University from that point onwards.  As a result of her inspirational leadership style, the school authorities worked with her to reinstate the thirteen rusticated Student Union leaders.  These thirteen included, Anthony Fasayo, popularly known as, Tony Fash, the Student Union President at the time who was a medical student.  Today Anthony Fashayo has graduated and is now a Doctor, helping others and saving lives. As the President of the Student Union, she spoke and battled openly against cultism and she brought great hope, confidence and freedom to the female students who were much in the background and constantly relegated to a lower status.  

Olasubomi’s time at Obafemi Awolowo University led her to start the Organisation for Youths and Women Affairs, OYWA, which later developed into the Lightup Foundation.  Her desire to help young people was already clearly tangible from her formative student years.  Following Olasubomi’s remarkable impact at Obafemi Awolowo University, in 2002, she became the youngest focal person for the National Women’s Peace Group, a group inaugurated by the then President of Nigeria, President Olushegun Obsanjo.  She was then assigned responsibility for training women and young people in Lagos State in conflict management and the techniques of peace.  She was the youngest of all the focal people selected to represent the thirty-six states in Nigeria and the Federal capital territory, Abuja.  

This posting was highly controversial due to her age.  Funding was not provided to support this role however lack of finance has never stopped Olasubomi in a project that she believes in. She used her own money to start training sessions in conflict management amongst all sectors - women, traditional leaders and politicians in Lagos State and became the most active Focal person in Nigeria.  She organised several notable rallies and was able to bring the young, the old and people from different backgrounds and beliefs together in a bid to promote mutual understanding and thereby peace in one of the most difficult and troubled states in Nigeria. Notably, there was a problem between the Yoruba tribe and the Hausa tribe in Lagos and she was able to bring the tribal leaders together to resolve their differences.  She gained enormous fame because of the success of this project and the outcomes clearly demonstrate her indefatigable leadership skills.

This track record led Olasubomi to be invited by the Committee involved with the execution of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2003) in Nigeria to plan a Pan-Commonwealth Project for Nigeria.  She brought together over one hundred and twenty participants from commonwealth countries to celebrate peace building under the banner, ‘The Nigerian Dream’. Through this initiative, she resisted pressure to applaud well known names and highlighted instead the common man, making his or her own contribution to peace in the community. The project was designed to reach out and touch the most ordinary person.  It was harder to raise money by not courting the powerful and wealthy and instead she funded this herself until just two days before the event at Abuja when the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) agreed to support her efforts.  Gillian Dare, OBE, the first Secretary to the United Kingdom in Nigeria, the Swiss Ambassador and many other important dignitaries were present at this event.

In 2003, when Olasubomi was twenty-five years old, the US Government became aware of her numerous acts of charity work and campaigning for women and young people.  The US Embassy in Nigeria informed her that they wanted her to represent Nigeria in the US Department of States’ International Leadership Programme. The Embassy were convinced of her legitimacy and the impact of her achievements but remained concerned about her age.  The selection process was considered for over a year before she was finally chosen to represent Nigeria in the programme in Washington DC in 2004.  On arrival, she found herself surrounded by Secretary of State and high profile political figures from other nations.  She was given leadership training, the opportunity to monitor the 2004 US election and met political leaders and people of influence. This amazing opportunity gave her a fresh cultural perspective which served to strengthen her understanding of the world around her, reshaping her vision of what she wanted to achieve on her return to Nigeria.  She renewed her focus, renaming OYWA as ‘LIghtup Foundation’ with the wider aim of supporting youth development as well as encouraging volunteerism.

Olasubomi is driven to help young people but will stop and help anyone on her journey who needs assistance.  She will always engage and contribute wherever there are people in need.  Even though she has her planned projects, she will never walk away from an appeal for help. Moved by the plight of the dying population, she assisted with a food rescue operation in Niger Republic in 2005. She sold most of her inheritance to help feed the dying population of Gari Isi, Gari Iddi and Gari Maigimi during this deadly drought and to transport volunteers and food to these starving people from Nigeria.  Welcomed by rulers, her team helped to save the lives of many people.  She gave particular attention to the disabled and widows and the rescue mission was covered by the Washington Post newspaper in 2005 as well as numerous television stations.  After her return to the UK, she inspired others to come and work with her, some people joined her after they were touched by her love and passion following interviews and features on different UK television networks.

After marrying and relocating to the UK, Olasubomi continued her role as the Executive Director of Lightup Foundation , a role she has fulfilled on a voluntary basis for close to 20years after the formal formation of her organisation at the University.  She is responsible for overseeing the day to day operations of the foundation and delivering community programmes to the highest standards of excellence.  Her strong organisational skills combined with an infectious and engaging personality have enabled her to thrive in this role, promoting stronger bonds within the communities that she touches.

Olasubomi visits other countries including Nigeria on an annual basis to deliver projects, one of which is the ‘Let’s Talk’ project.  ‘Let’s Talk’ is a youth development training and counselling project which operates in different states, e.g. Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States.  She has used this project to reach and empower well over ten thousand young people.  As part of this project, she meets with school authorities to discuss any important findings during counselling sessions.  She also identifies any students of promise who are facing financial difficulties such that they may need to abandon their education.  On an annual basis, she provides scholarship support to them so that they may continue their studies.  

She provides scholarships annually to assist the less privileged students but in 2017/2018, she provided at least ten scholarships to children who were unable to continue in mainstream education.  So far she has provided approximately 40 scholarships up till 2020. She has also provided micro grants to impoverished parents and citizens in Oyo State to enable them to better support their families.  ‘Let’s Talk’ has been running now for over ten years and is funded solely by Olasubomi without any other form of financial assistance.  The project represents one of the founding tenets of her life which is communication with children and young people.  ‘Let’s Talk’ is the perfect moniker for an initiative which offers counselling and support to young people in need. Able to relate to youth on their own level, she uses creativity and originality to connect with them and gives all of herself without question.  Her ability to relate to young people is inspirational and she possesses an incredible knack of finding creative ideas to access the psyche of the young so that they will open up to her.  She listens to them without censor or judgement.  Olasubomi is physically of small stature and during the sessions for the ‘Let’s Talk’ project, she comes among the children wearing their own uniform.  She becomes one of them and because of that, she is able to reach their minds to help them and achieve more tangible results.

Olasubomi has shown both humility and selflessness in helping other people across a range of projects and initiatives through Lightup Foundation, all diverse, original and all bearing the hallmark of her inspirational leadership skills.  She gives of herself freely and her time and money in the service of humanity.  She is unique not just in her desire to help others but in the tremendous reach she has to young people, both in terms of the staggering breadth of her work and her ability to connect with individuals.  

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